Comics : Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #1

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This review was first published on: 2005.

Background...

Since Peter's break-up with Mary Jane, his life's been having some severe downturns. Meanwhile, Kitty Pryde of the X-Men's been having her own romantic problems since her relationship with Bobby Drake fizzled out...

In Detail...

Ultimate Spider-Man Annual #1
Oct 2005 : SM Title
Summary: Spider-Man & Kitty Pride
Editor:  Ralph Macchio
Writer:  Brian Michael Bendis
Pencils:  Mark Brooks
Inker:  Jaime Mendoza
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 Reprinted In: Spider-Man TPB (Ultimate) #15
 Reprinted In: Ultimate Spider-Man Reprints (Hardcover) #8

Kitty Pryde's not having a good day, as she engages in typical training in the danger room, feeling like something is missing in her life, something that isn't X-Men related. Peter Parker's having the same types of thoughts, as he fights the Rhino in downtown New York. He defeats the Rhino, gets a less than stellar reception from the armed forces, and takes off.

At a bbq with the rest of the X-Men, Kitty is frustrated by Bobby Drake's not missing her, and disappears from lunch. At the same time, Peter ruminates on why he can't have a special someone in his life, because of how dangerous his life is as Spider-Man, and his inability to trust Mary Jane to do what he says when her life may be at risk.

Kitty talks with Jean about being lonely, and wants to maybe try and contact Spider-Man, to try and date someone outside of the X-Men and the Institute. Jean's not sure it's a good idea, but Kitty persuades her. Kitty nervously calls Peter at home, and after an awkward beginning to the conversation, the two plan to hang out together after school one day. Peter and Kitty meet outside of his school and go to the local mall, and discuss mutants, superhero friends (or the lack of), secret identities, and romantic relationships. When Flash and Kong pelt the two with some garbage, they leave the mall and head up to the roof of the building. Kitty continues to talk to Peter about relationships, and how maybe he could date someone if they could protect themselves and had powers of their own. Kitty freaks out when she says this, and dives through the building, but then comes back, even though she's embarassed.

Peter tells Kitty that he wasn't freaked out, and as the two are about to kiss, an explosion is heard in the distance. Peter puts on his costume, and Kitty demands to come with him. He wants her to stay on the roof, but once she proves to him that she can't be hurt, by putting her arm through his chest, he swings down with her in his arms.

The commotion on the street is caused by Herman Schultz, the Shocker. As he blasts members of law enforcement, Kitty shows up on the scene, and Shocker blasts right through her. She mocks him, phases through his gauntlets, short-circuiting them, and then lets Spider-Man finish him up by making him run into a web-net. As the onlookers applaud, Peter and Kitty swing away.

Back on the rooftops, the two talk briefly before the X-jet shows up to pick up Kitty. As the jet hovers above, the two decide they'd like to get together again, when Kitty asks Peter if he was going to kiss her before. He says that he was going to, and then, as the X-Jet hovers above, the two finally kiss. She disappears into the jet. When Peter gets home, he finds an e-mail from Kitty, and he's pretty happy with the turn of events.

In General...

This was an extremely well done Ultimate Spider-Man story, and makes this annual worth the extra money. There's an important development in Spider-Man's life, and it's all told with a minimum of action sequences. The emphasis here is clearly on the writing and characterization, to set up a new romantic relationship that doesn't feel overly forced or artificial. It's hard for a jaded reader to really accept that Peter won't end up with MJ, because of the movies, and the mainstream universe, but this issue really makes you forget all about MJ. Bendis writes Kitty extremely well, and as a result, what you have here is a very honest, truthful Ultimate Spider-Man story.

The duo of Kitty Pryde and Peter Parker might sound extremely weird at first, but when you get right down to it, it actually makes sense for the Ultimate versions of the characters. Bendis puts it all together, and highlights just why these two are actually compatible with each other, and also provides Peter with a new love interest where there's a lot of interesting story potential which hasn't been delved into yet. It's stuff like this which really makes the Ultimate version of the character that much different from his mainstream counterpart.

The art by Brooks is very well done, but it's still weird to see Ultimate Spider-Man being drawn by anyone who's not Bagley. It was great work though, and if anyone had to follow up Bagley on the title, Brooks would be a good candidate. His action stuff is well done, but more important than that, considering this is Ultimate Spider-Man, he can draw great civilian scenes, with just subtle facial expressions, just like Bagley. The two of them make the talking heads scenes more than just talking heads scenes, and infuse them with great emotion.

Overall Rating...

A high rating for this book, because it was just an excellent read. Moreover, it felt like a good value for the cost, as it was not that quick a read, and had a lot of meaty conversation in it. The dialogue felt natural, and the artwork just jumped off the page. It was a sweet, honest, romantic and truthful story, and the artwork fully complimented these aspects of the script.